Worth It: Work Camp 2021
Each year I have the privilege of joining our youth on a mission trip somewhere in the U.S. Due to the pandemic, last year’s trip was cancelled. So, it has been 2 years since we last had this wonderful privilege. This year, we traveled to Westfield Indiana, a small rural suburb north of Indianapolis. The purpose of these mission trips is simple – to remove some obstacles (through free acts of service) that prevent people from encountering the hope and grace God has offered them. All the while experiencing the power that Jesus has to transform our very own lives as we encounter the power of Jesus’ presence that is already in us.
The theme for this year’s camp was Worth It. We all struggle at times with a sense of worth or significance. Am I worthy of what I receive? This can be both positive – “Do I deserve the gifts I’ve been given?” Or negative – “Why did this bad thing happen to me?” Throughout the week we examined the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15). A story that is familiar to us, but (as is often the case) in its familiarity we tend to gloss over its deeper meanings and relevancy to our lives.
Timothy Keller points out that the two brothers in this story represent the two basic ways people try to make life work. The younger son pursues “self-discovery”—he’s on a quest to find and fulfill himself, even if a few people have to get hurt along the way. The older brother is committed to a more socially respectable way of being in the world—the way of “moral conformity.” He’s on a program of self-salvation, earning the approval of his community and the favor of his father; when he feels the terms of this deal are violated, his good attitude evaporates into resentment.
Both sons are in need of “grace encounters.” These are encounters with God, when God’s grace touches us and transforms or changes the way we see ourselves, people, relationships, and everything that surrounds us. Grace encounters change us as we adjust to seeing the world the way God’s sees it. The first son needed to understand that he was Worth It. That he had value long before he tried to find meaning via self-experience and hedonism. The older soon need to see and believe that he was Worth It. That he had value long before he tried to discover meaning and significance through achievements and conformity to a worldly standard.
That’s what experience God’s grace does. It changes us. That’s why we do workcamps, so that we can help others experience this life changing grace form God. So that they can see that they are special. So that they can feel loved and know deep down inside that they are indeed Worth It. Throughout this time we also discovered that we are Worth It as well.